I was out walking today with the dog (Nicaia) when she stopped at this mailbox. “Follow your dreams” is written in Swedish. The mailbox is looking rather worn and beyond any dreams, and it mirrored how I was feeling.
In Swedish one often says “if one dares”. I have dared, my whole life has been one of daring, in the mission to follow my dreams. Change the world, fight injustice, do what is right. This has got me into trouble countless times, when many are content to sit on the fence, I’ve jumped down and taken out whatever tools I have to ‘fight the good fight’ and do what feels right in my heart even though there are consequences.
I spent my younger years fighting my way out of the grips of insensitive government officials as a single parent living in a threadbare flat, single-glazed windows, no wall insulation, concrete floors. This is UK in 1980s. I was 17 years when I got my first child. It was freezing in winter-time, and I was often hungry and desperate. I lived in an area for 13 years where there was violence, drugs and prostitutes. I still remember vividly when I almost accepted one day a wrong road; when I had no food for my son, my cupboard was bare, and I felt so alone.
If I’d accepted to stay at home and draw on social security, take a boyfriend (a truck driver was the best, this is what my neighbour did) life would have been more comfortable. However, I didn’t. I worked, paying the ridiculous childminding fees, in order to keep some level of dignity and give my son a better future. I have cleaned public toilets, hospitals, worked behind bars and nightclubs. I went back to school to get some basic qualifications when I was 23 for 3 years full time, working nights. I was shunned as a bad mother; which I agreed with based on the values at this time. I had so low esteem that I believed it.
Fast forward 30 years. The postbox today brought back this to me in a bittersweet way. I followed my dreams which has lead me to where I am now, looking from the outside as successful, opinionated and somewhat arrogant thought-leader. I left a secure job at 50 years old, to follow again my dreams “make privacy accessible to all”, for this a product was needed.
However, during the last 5 years my integrity, and belief in humankind has meant that I’ve been too trusting and too naive. I burnt out in 2016. Made some bad recruitment decisions. Signed contracts without legal advice. In 2017 I sold some shares to help through a difficult period, which continued still until today. Privasee cannot pay me back as things stand now.
I now personally owe the Tax Authorities half a million kronor, and they are taking money out of a joint account my family use to pay our mortgage. It feels like financial rape. I’ve already been there, done it, escaped when I was young. But they have me again in a strong, greedy and insensitive grip, with no immediate escape.
I hate them as they try yet again to steal my pride from me, this time in Swedish. I hate how they are hurting my family, I have a 9 year old daughter. The failure I feel is immense. All because of a strong a driving force -which I am blessed or cursed with- which made me ‘follow my dreams’.
Published originally on LinkedIn, 4 May 2019.